Asylum applications from Turks on rise in Germany as Erdogan crackdown intensifies

Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan addresses the audience during a meeting at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, Turkey, Aug 4, 2016.
Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan addresses the audience during a meeting at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, Turkey, Aug 4, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

BERLIN (AFP) - A rising number of Turkish nationals have sought asylum in Germany, official data showed Friday (Aug 5), as tensions rise in Turkey over an intensifying crackdown by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Germany recorded 1,719 Turkish asylum applications in the first half of this year, almost the same number as for the whole of last year, when 1,767 sought refuge, Tagesspiegel daily reported, citing data from the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees.

The office said it did not yet have any indication of how the failed coup of July 15 and the resulting massive crackdown had impacted on numbers.

But even before the coup, activists and the West have been alarmed by the deteriorating human rights situation in Turkey, with spiralling numbers of journalists, bloggers and ordinary people being taken to court on an array of charges, including insulting Erdogan.

Most of the Turkish refugees came from the Kurdish regions, with 1,510 applications filed by Kurds so far this year, according to the data.

Last summer, Erdogan's government launched military operations against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) following the collapse of a two-year ceasefire.

Thousands of militants have been killed in the clashes, but activists claim that innocent civilians have also been killed in the offensive.

Nevertheless, the rate of successful asylum applications in Germany by Kurds - at 5.2 per cent - was lower than the average of 6.7 per cent for the whole of Turkey.